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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

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Snowdrops

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Snowdrops Cover

ISBN13: 9780385533447
ISBN10: 0385533446
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. Is Nick Platt, the narrator of Snowdrops, a good man who turns bad, a bad man to start with, or neither?

2. Towards the end of the book, Nick says that Masha “had a better excuse.” Do you think Snowdrops is at heart a story about corrupt Russians or corruptible westerners?

3. How far should Nick’s behaviour be explained by his circumstances and opportunities in Moscow, and how far by his own temperament and psychology?

4. At what point did Nick begin to question his own motives and sense of ethics?

5. When Nick visits Tatiana Vladimirovna’s apartment for the first time, he says that he “liked her immediately, and…liked her right ‘til the end.” Is that true? If so, why doesn’t it affect how he behaves?  

6. Do Nick’s feelings for his fiancée change as he is recounting his tale? How does the relationship implied in the framing device interact with or reinforce his Moscow story?

7. There are several plots in Snowdrops: the main drama involving Tatiana Vladimirovna; the one featuring the Cossack and the floating oil terminal; and the story of Nick’s neighbour, Oleg Nikolaevich, and his missing friend. How do these plots relate to each other?

8. At the beginning of the story, Nick tries to be kind to Oleg Nikolaevich. By the end of it, he is less kind and spends much less time with him. Who suffers most as a result?

9. “I liked the Cossack,” Nick says after their first meeting: “Something about him was endearing...It might be better to say I envied him.” What does he mean by that? 

10. At the heart of the novel is Nick’s trip to the dacha in the forest with Masha and Katya: “my happiest time,” he says; “the time I would always go back to if I could”. What does Nick learn at the dacha—about the women and about himself?

11. How much, if anything, of what Masha and Katya tell Nick about themselves do you think is true?

12. The exact years that Nick lives in Moscow aren’t specified in the book. But, thinking about the attitudes of the lawyers and bankers in the story, do you think Snowdrops is amongst other things a pre-credit crunch tale?

13. At the end of Snowdrops, Nick says that when he thinks about what happened to him during his last winter in Moscow, “there is guilt”. But then he qualifies that by saying “there is some guilt”. Is Nick really sorry for what he did during his last winter in Moscow? Does he understand how serious it was? 

14. At one point Nick describes the winter as an “annual oblivion…like temporary amnesia for a bad conscience”. What role do snow and the weather play in Snowdrops?

15. A snowdrop, as Nick’s friend Steve explains to him, is a body that lies buried or hidden in the snow, emerging only in the thaw. What does the image of the snowdrop symbolise in Snowdrops?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Diana Deverell, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by Diana Deverell)
An old Cold Warrior, Miller easily transported me to post-Soviet Union Moscow, and showed me how the old games are played in the modern era. A well done thriller!
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Joseph Landes, December 8, 2011 (view all comments by Joseph Landes)
As always, there seems to be at least one runner-up Man Booker awared nominee where you say to yourself "that one could just as well have won." Snowdrops is a well-written, fast moving story about a British lawyer named Nick Platt who has worked in oil-boom Moscow for a number of years. He is the kind of lawyer who works on deals, most of them of the shadier variety where the buyers and sellers of land and property are as gaudy as they are crooked. Nick happens upon two sisters--Masha and Katya---as he is walking home through one of the well-known Moscow subway underground passages. He "saves" them from a purported robbery and then takes up with one of them in what appears(at least to him) to be a deepening relationship. Masha then engages Nick to help her aunt Tatiana with a real estate purchase which ends up going in a much different direction than imagined--at least to Nick. Anyone who has visited or lived in Moscow will no doubt appreciate the attention to detail the author puts towards describing the buldings, streets, babushkas, and the general mood of the inhabitatns of this amazing city. Through Nick Platt, the author makes you feel empathy not just for Nick himself but really for Muscovites in general and in particular the less than well-off of the city and country. An exciting and well worth read.

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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
alchymyst, November 19, 2011 (view all comments by alchymyst)
I thought it was a really good read. Where A. D. Miller succeeds beautifully is in creating atmosphere and setting. When he describes the winter, you can almost feel your limbs going numb from cold. It was perhaps not the most gripping story, but it was an interesting snapshot of corruption in post-Soviet Russia.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385533447
Author:
Miller, A. D.
Publisher:
Doubleday Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Psychological
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
7.79 x 5.33 x 1.05 in .76 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Snowdrops Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Doubleday Books - English 9780385533447 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Things may not be what they appear, but they turn out to be exactly what readers will predict in this saggy debut about shady business deals in go-go capitalist Russia. Nick Platt, a lawyer who has traded his dull British life for pushing paper in Moscow, soon takes up with a leggy young Russian about whom he knows nothing and, at her behest, helps a babushka trade her fabulous apartment for a half-built place in the country. The deal seems like a scam, and, of course, it is, but Nick is blinded by lust and nearly always a step behind the reader. He blithely gets involved in a multimillion-dollar loan for an oil pipeline brokered by a dodgy fellow known only as 'the Cossack,' even after a key player goes missing. Most readers will not be so easily duped, and Nick's oft-repeated I-should-have seen-it-comings undercut any suspense that might remain, though there are interesting bits to be found in the travelogue-style writing about the new Russia. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , An intense psychological drama that echoes sophisticated entertainments like Gorky Park and
"Review" by , "[An] assured fiction debut....[Miller] memorably captures the city's atmosphere during the glitzy, anything-goes era that succeeded Soviet Communism....Miller's uncluttered prose and feel for the city's Wild West atmosphere are pleasures."
"Review" by , "The wonderfully evoked corrupt atmosphere of modern Moscow, a dangerous mix of extreme poverty and decadent wealth, of simple old-fashioned values and unrestrained debauchery reads like Graham Greene on steroids.....Tightly written, with fascinating insider detail gained in three years as The Economist magazine's Moscow correspondent, Miller's complex, gripping debut novel is undoubtedly the real thing."
"Review" by , "AD Miller's engrossing debut...offers an entirely believable portrait of a man complicit in Moscow's moral freefall...Miller brilliantly showcases the city as his novel's strutting, charismatic star...rendered with intoxicating vitality. It is a bravura setting for a study in morality...disturbing and dazzling."
"Review" by , "Compelling narrative voice....Andrew Miller shines in his depiction of Russian life....[and] deserves full credit for being able to transfer his knowledge to the page. He makes you see and feel the glitz, squalor, and violence of Moscow...[with] bleak beauty of his writing."
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